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What Animals Does Pet Insurance Cover: How Does It Work?

While most people think of pet insurance as just for dogs and cats, there are plans on the market that cover a variety of animals — whether furry, feathered, scaled, or hooved. The options for exotic pet insurance are fewer than those for dogs and cats but you can find pet insurance for birds, reptiles, horses, small mammals, and more. Let’s explore what animals are covered by pet insurance and how it all works.

Here's what we'll discuss:

Pet insurance 101: What is it and why would I need it?

From furry to feathered: What animals pet insurance covers

Breaking it all down: Your questions answered about costs and coverage

What is pet insurance?

Pet insurance is essentially health insurance made for pets. It can be a helpful tool for pet owners to financially prepare for their pet’s medical care, especially in cases of unexpected veterinary bills such as when accidents or illnesses occur.

If your dog fractures a leg jumping off the couch, your cat develops bladder stones, or your bird is egg-bound, pet insurance can help cover the cost their veterinary care.

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What animals does pet insurance cover?

Most standard pet insurance plans cover dogs and cats, but there are a few plans on the market that cover other species such as reptiles, horses, birds, and more. Here’s a breakdown of which animals are covered under specific insurance providers:

Pet insurance for dogs and cats

The following pet insurance providers offer plans for dogs and cats:

  • Lemonade
  • Embrace
  • Trupanion
  • Pets Best
  • Spot
  • Figo
  • Pumpkin
  • Fetch
  • Many pets
  • Nationwide
  • CarePlus by Chewy
  • Healthy Paws
  • MetLife
  • Geico
  • AKC
  • Paw Protect

These providers all offer standard accident and illness plans. Some offer optional wellness coverage and other add-ons but coverage options can vary by state.

Pet insurance for exotic pets

Nationwide is currently the only exotic pet insurance provider on the market. They offer accident and illness coverage for exotic pets such as:

  • Birds. Parrots, cockatiels, canaries, finches, lovebirds, toucans, and more.
  • Reptiles. Lizards, snakes, etc.
  • Amphibians. Frogs, toads, etc.
  • Small mammals. Rabbits, hamsters, rats, guinea pigs, chinchillas, sugar gliders, ferrets, and more.
  • Goats. Pygmy goats, dwarf goats, alpine goats, etc.
  • Mini Pigs. Pot-bellied pigs, pygmy pigs, etc.

An alternative to pet insurance for your exotic pet is Pet Assure. Pet Assure is not an insurance provider but rather a discount plan. Exotic pet owners can save up to 25% on veterinary care. Pet Assure also covers more species, boasting coverage for “every member of the animal kingdom.”

Pet insurance for horses

ASPCA is currently the only pet insurance provider on the market that offers health coverage for horses. They offer accident and illness coverage, plus an optional preventative care plan.

While you can find other types of horse insurance on the market, those are more akin to livestock plans which are typically limited to liability, theft, and mortality coverage. They usually do not cover veterinary care.

Horse owners also have an alternative option through Pet Assure, a veterinary discount plan that offers up to 25% savings on equine veterinary care.

How much does pet insurance cost?

The cost of pet insurance varies widely based on several factors including the type of plan you choose, the type of pet you have, and where you are located.

Pet insurance costs for dogs and cats can range from $15 a month to over $100 a month but most companies will provide you with a free, customized quote on their website.

Pricing on pet insurance for horses and exotic animals is highly customized so averages are not available. According to Nationwide, insurance plans for exotic pets start at $21 a month but a request for a customized quote can be completed on their website. You can also obtain a customized quote for your horse through ASPCA’s pet insurance website.

How does pet insurance work?

Similar to human health insurance, pet insurance works by enrolling your pet in a plan, paying a monthly premium, and filing claims for each medical bill. Depending on the type of plan you have, you’ll either be reimbursed a percentage of your pet’s medical bill (reimbursement model), or it will be paid directly to your veterinary provider (direct-vet-pay model).

Like many types of insurance, pet insurance plans have an enrollment process to determine eligibility, monthly premiums, deductibles, reimbursement percentages, annual limits, and exclusions. All of these factors can affect your coverage, payments, and reimbursements. Because there are so many variables, it’s important to compare coverage and consider what will work best for your pet’s needs and your budget before picking a plan.

What’s covered by pet insurance?

There are a variety of pet insurance plans to choose from, each with different types of coverage, but the most common plans cover accidents and illnesses. More specifically, they cover veterinary diagnosis and treatments for accidents and illnesses. This may include things like exams, blood work, x-rays, ultrasounds, surgical procedures, hospitalization, and more.

Some pet insurance plans also offer additional coverage for preventative care, known as wellness plans. The amount covered by your pet insurance will depend on your specific plan but can range from 50% to 100% of your veterinary bills.

What’s not covered by pet insurance?

Each pet insurance provider may have different exclusions, but as an industry standard, most do not cover pre-existing conditions (any medical problem your pet had prior to the insurance effective date) or any treatment deemed non-medically necessary. This typically includes things like cosmetic procedures, grooming, and any treatments related to breeding your pet.

Most standard accident and illness plans also do not cover preventative care such as yearly check-ups, vaccines, and dental cleanings. However, if you’ve opted for a wellness plan add-on, these things might be covered.

Like all insurance, it’s important to read through your individual plan’s coverage, exclusions, and terms to understand exactly what is and isn’t covered.

Weighing your options

Whether you’re shopping for pet insurance for dogs and cats or pet insurance for guinea pigs and rats, you have options. Take some time to gather customized quotes and weigh the costs and benefits of each plan before making your decision. Pet insurance can be a great way to help cover your vet bills but you’ll want to make sure you choose a plan that aligns with your needs and budget.


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